CALEDONIA, Mich. – A woman who took an unpaid leave of absence from work to see her husband off to war has been fired after failing to show up for her part-time receptionist job the day following his departure.
"It was a shock," said Suzette Boler (search), a 40-year-old mother of three and grandmother of three. "I was hurt. I felt abandoned by people I thought cared for me. I sat down on the floor and cried for probably two hours."
Officials at her former workplace, Benefit Management Administrators Inc. (search), confirmed that Boler was dismissed when she didn't report to work the day after she said goodbye to her husband of 22 years.
"We gave her sufficient time to get back to work," Clark Galloway, vice president of operations for Benefit Management, told The Grand Rapids Press (search) for a story published Wednesday.
He added that other factors were involved in the decision but he declined to elaborate.
On Oct. 16, Boler went with her husband, Army Spc. Jerry Boler, 45, to an Indianapolis-area airfield, where he and others in his National Guard (search) unit gathered to be transported to Fort Dix, N.J. The unit soon will be deployed to Iraq, where he will help guard convoys from insurgent attacks.
Suzette Boler had received permission to take off work the week leading up to her husband's departure. As a part-time employee at Benefit Management, she did not receive vacation pay and was not compensated for her time off.
When Boler returned home from Indiana on the night of Oct. 16, a few hours after leaving her husband at the airfield, she said she felt drained by the emotional ordeal.
She said she had told her bosses that she would try to return on Oct. 17 but if she could not, she would definitely be back Oct. 18, she said.
But on the afternoon of Oct. 17, she received a call from work telling her to come in the following day and get her things because she was being fired. Her pink slip said the reason was she failed to show up for work Oct. 17, a Monday, she said.
"If I had even an inkling that I would be fired for not coming in Monday, I would have been there," she said.